Have you ever picked up a book and not understood who exactly the narrator was? Better yet, have you tried writing from one perspective, but then you found you couldn’t keep your pronouns straight throughout your work? You’ve guessed it. We’re going to explore writing from different perspectives.
Here’s what you need to know: there are three different perspectives to choose from. When deciding which to use, you must ask yourself who is speaking? Whose voice is telling the story?
1. Writing from First Person
When writing from first person, you must keep in mind that you are writing from your, or a character’s, personal perspective. Pronouns to use include I, me, and myself in the narrative. You should be telling the story as it is happening or as you are recalling the past.
Authors usually write this point of view as the protagonist, a deuteragonist, the observer, and the unreliable narrator (e.g. Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Captain Marcus in The Thousand Names, Doctor Watson in Sherlock Holmes, and Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye).
Using an observer as a narrator can be tricky at times. Luckily, Novel Writing Help gives a great overview of how to go about this!
2. Writing from Second Person
The second person point of view is the least common and, in my opinion, the hardest to use. Here, authors use pronouns ‘you’ singular and plural. I have to check my own work consistently to make sure I am not substituting ‘I,’ ‘we,’ ‘he/him,’ ‘she/her’, it’ for ‘you.’
Great examples of writing in second person can be found in any set of directions/instructions as well as in poetry. While not as popular in novels/books, you can find second person point of view utilized in The Journey Home by Dermot Bolger. Additionally, the ‘you’ is sometimes implied. See below for an example.
Take out the trash and pull the garbage cans to the street.
(You) take out the trash and pull the garbage cans to the street.
3. Writing from Third Person
Last is third person! This is my personal favorite, as it allows authors to have the most freedom/flexibility in their writing. Writing in third person gives the author and readers a more rounded version of the story. Pronouns used here include ‘he/him,’ she/her,’ ‘it,’ and ‘they/their.’
This also includes three separate categories – third person limited, third person multiple, and third person omniscient.
Third person limited follows one character throughout the story. We can see third person limited in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
Third person multiple follows – you’ve guessed it, Reader – multiple characters throughout the story. A great example of third person multiple can be seen in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.
Third person omniscient is used when the narrator knows everything about everyone. The narrator is, essentially, separated from the story and is not bound by past, present, or future. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams are great examples of this.
Share Your Thoughts!
For more information regarding writing perspectives, please see helpful pages like NY Book Editors and The Balance Career’s Story Point of View.
As always, don’t forget to leave a comment and follow my blog and Instagram @thereadywriter.blog. Did you enjoy this post? Did this information help you? Don’t be shy to share your thoughts!
Until next time, Reader.
8 thoughts on “Writing Perspectives: Have You Heard All Sides of the Story?”
Great post! It is interesting that you pointed out how you catch yourself making sure that you don’t substitute “I” or “we” or “She/He” for “You” as that is one of my biggest problems. I do it unknowingly sometimes and then when I read over my work or have someone else edit, correcting the perspective is usually the main edit that gets made! Looking forward to reading more of your posts!
Absolutely! When this happens and I begin to edit, I often find myself debating to just change the whole perspective all together. I usually pick whichever perspective makes more sense given the context or is just easier for the reader to understand.
So, I was invited to a potluck gathering. I told my friend: I’ll buy something. Sari doesn’t cook. and she said: “Michelle doesn’t cook either.” I know it’s wrong to use the third person but sometimes it’s funny, as long as I don’t submit an official piece with “Sari doesn’t ….”
Another great post!
HA-HA! I love this. It’s all about that meal prep (I’m not great at it either! Thanks for you comment. 😄
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This was an awesome read and super helpful! Whenever I had a professor that asked me to write in first, second, or third person, I never could comprehend the difference. These tips are great to know and this will definitely help me out in the future with writing!
Happy that you found this helpful. It’s definitely frustrating at times.
Thanks for your comment!
Ava, the title of your blog beckoned, like a calling! I can’t boast that I am a writer but I do love penning my thoughts on anything, anytime, just to feed my soul, at times. This decision in terms of which ‘person’ to choose to write in is always a dilemma for me. Your perspective on this really helped.
I’m glad you liked it! It can definitely be a challenge – choosing which perspective to write in. It’s all in the imagination and whatever makes the most sense to you!
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